How Is Solar Energy Extracted Or Developed?
Solar energy is extracted or developed in a variety of ways, depending on the type of solar technology used. The most common way is through photovoltaics, which convert light directly into electricity. Other types of solar energy technologies include solar heating and cooling systems, and concentrating solar power (CSP) applications, which use lenses or mirrors to focus sunlight onto a receiver that then uses the heat to turn a steam turbine and produce electricity.
The first step in generating electricity from solar energy is to build a system that consists of photovoltaic cells and other components. Typically, this will involve installing solar panels on rooftops or on large outdoor areas where sunlight is available.
Usually, each individual cell is made from silicon which is one of the most abundant chemical elements on Earth. This element is also one of the most versatile semiconductors, able to act as both conductor and insulator.
It’s important that the silicon used in these cells is properly doped with phosphorus or boron to improve its ability to absorb and convert sunlight into electrical energy. These doping materials have a specific chemical reaction with the silicon to create an electric field that allows electrons to flow.
This electric field then starts to attract other electrons from the surrounding atoms, forming an electric current. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect, and it was discovered by French physicist Edmond Becquerel in 1839.
Once the solar cell is set up correctly, it’s ready to begin converting sunlight into energy. The key to this process is the band gap between the positive and negative layers of the silicon. This band gap is determined by the amount of energy required for an electron to move from the p-type side of the silicon to the n-type side of the silicon.
The amount of energy provided by the photons of sunlight must be sufficient to get the electrons to move from their p-type state to the n-type side of the cell. If it’s not enough, the electrons will simply recombine with their holes to stay in the p-type state, which is a waste of energy and not good for a solar cell.
However, there are some issues with this process that prevent it from being as efficient as it could be. These problems include the fact that some of the photons are not powerful enough to break free from their electron-hole pairs and move to the n-type side of the semiconductor.
Other factors that can affect how well a solar cell works are how close the cells are to each other and the quality of the chemistry used in the silicon. This can impact how quickly the cell can absorb and convert sunlight into energy.
It’s also important that the solar cells are placed at a location where they can receive as much sun exposure as possible to maximize the amount of solar energy that is absorbed and converted into electricity. This is especially true in areas with a high “urban heat island” effect, such as many urban cities around the world.